book of days serial #2

It was after the rains at dusk. The sky would be shown to pedestrians in the puddles of tepid water as a cerulean purple festooned with grey. The sun remained in the wetted smog like a million tiny moons. The apartments of Los Angeles shivered from napping with damp beads of sweat blooming on their walls.

There was nothing to eat in the apartment and he had to walk down to the glowing Vons on Centinela Boulevard for food. He thought of waiting until morning when he would be obligated to leave the sundrenched building, but then, although he was not hungry, decided against waiting. It was only eight postmeridian, the sky was green and the trip would reacquaint him with the nuanced dusk lighting of the environs, which had slipped from his memory since walking the previous evening. If he just sat in the front room of the apartment, the temptation to go to sleep again would become irresistible. The lurking futon in dusk, the drowsy cats, both drawing eyes down like the spring shower passed with steel tumult heavy on the sky.

The night was strangely warm and very still for the uniform malevolence that coated the flat sky like plaster. He started down hill, walking on the outer edge of the pavement. He hurried between lampposts, where the shadows were heaviest, and came to a full stop for a moment at every circle of light to skulk low and sleek with the fastest eyes known in darkness. Upon reaching the cross street at Centinela he stopped for several minutes on the corner to get his bearings. He stood there, poised with one arm looped behind his back clutching the opposite elbow. His solitude at the crest of the parking lot was such that if he did not go toward the fluorescent vapor of the supermarket at that very moment, he may have approached the brink and lost the capacity to interact with anything but the most familiar conditions.

But already there was a woman walking across the parking lot in darkness. He sat back against the bollard at the perimeter of the property and watched the woman who had come from the Carolina Pines Motel wearing a muumuu cross the asphalt expanse to the supermarket. The woman walked in small mincing steps and kept raising her hand as if to shield her eyes from the vacant sunlight. As if in a trance he watched the woman, for it seemed to him then that he was watching the dead still center of the world, the quintessential intersection of nothing.

He had watched these people in the supermarket and he knew the signs. At seven postmeridian on a Saturday evening they would be standing in the checkout line of Vons reading the horoscope in the Harper’s Bazaar and in their carts would be a single bottle of juice and maybe two cans of cat food and the Sunday morning paper, the early edition with the comics wrapped on the outside. He began to notice these patterns. He began to wonder what he was doing there with them.

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